Cypher is one of AEG’s new card games from 2 to 4 players within their five-minute fun line. In this game you are the head of a faction fighting a cyberwar to gain control of the Artificial Intelligence named Cypher.

During the game you will be gathering and playing characters from three different classes (upper, middle and lower) trying to get the most influence at the end of the game, thus winning the game.

The setup of the game for 3-4 players is rather easy yet a bit strange (there is different setup for 2 players). The start player gets 3 cards, the player to its right only gets 1 and the rest get 2 players. (It will become clear in a second) The remaining cards form a draw deck and the top card of it is played face up in the Display.

During a turn the player does the following 4 things in order. Play, Draw, Pass and Discard. During the Play phase you simply play a card, place the card in your play area and execute its action as much as possible. You can never have more than three cards in your play area. When you would play the fourth card to your play area you have to discard one of the cards already in play. Next you may draw a card from the Draw deck or the card in the Display. The card in the Display is immediately replaced by the top card from the draw deck when taken. After you have drawn a card you must pass one card to the player to your left and one card to the player to your right. If you have more than one (two in a 2-player game) card in your hand after passing the cards, you have to discard the excess by putting them face down on the bottom of the draw deck.

This continues until one player plays the Cypher Anomaly or the Draw deck is empty at the end of a player’s turn to trigger the end. When the end is triggered each player including the player who triggered it may perform one last turn. The player with the most influence at the end of the game is the winner.

To be honest, I’m not so fond of this game. I really like the passing of the cards because this means that you really have to think of which card your gone keep for yourself. Are you going to keep a card that you want to play next turn or are you going keep a less useful card because you don’t want another player to get it. The card interactions are nice but nothing special. The artwork on the cards looks great. You can definitely tell an immediate difference in the more darker cards of the lower class and the colorful cards of the upper class. But my main problem is in the end game. You will almost never voluntarily end the game because you are never sure of the victory. You will always see several things that can happen when you would end the game and make you lose it. Moreover it can be that another player can decide who he wants to let win. If I play this card he will win, if I don’t then the other person will win. I don’t like it when stuff like this comes up. So usually it’s just waiting until the deck runs out and hope that you can make the difference at the end. But here we found another issue while playing with 3 players. Since the discards are always returned to the bottom of the draw pile it is almost impossible to run out of cards. The only possibility is by using the Extractor which gives you the option of removing a card from the game but you’ll have to use her multiple times before the draw deck can run empty which makes the game drag on. Especially because of the end game and it’s unpredictability it is not a game for us.

Play with Honor